Russell E Kelly’s Reply to Crown Ministry’s Unsigned Article, Apr 8, 2012
Tithing outside of the local church
Crown: Biblical principle of tithing: When we recognize that God owns everything and all blessings come from Him, our role as managers, or stewards, becomes evident.
Kelly: While this is a true statement based on Psalm 24:1, it is false when used to teach tithing. While God owned everything even in the Old Testament, He only accepted HOLY tithes from FOOD from inside His HOLY land of Israel. There are 16 texts which describe the CONTENTS of the HOLY tithe to validate this fact.
Crown: Part of being a good steward is giving back to God a portion of what He has entrusted to us. It is not that God needs our money. Rather, giving serves as an external, material testimony that God owns both the material and the spiritual things of our lives and that He is the source of all our supply.
Crown: In the Old Testament the Hebrew people brought approximately 23 percent of their increase to the “Lord's storehouse.”
Kelly: The 23% is true but former Crown leader, Larry Burkett, did not admit to the three tithes. “The Hebrew people brought … to the Lord’s storehouse” is a false interpretation of Malachi 3:10. According to Nehemiah 10:37-38, Joshua 21, Numbers 35 and common sense, the Hebrew people brought the first whole Levitical tithe to the Levitical cities where 98% of those who needed it for food lived. Malachi is a rebuke to “you” priests from 1:6; 2:1 and Neh 13:5-10 for stealing the tithes from the Levites.
Crown: The keepers of the storehouse, the Levites, in turn used what was given to care for the widows, needy foreigners in the area, orphans, and the Levites.
Kelly: This is partially true of the second and third tithe only. They cared for the needy throughout Israel because the second tithe was eaten in the streets of Israel and the third tithe was kept in the cities, not the Jerusalem temple.
Crown: According to extra-biblical historical evidence, in New Testament times, no longer did the people bring their tithes and offerings to a physical storehouse. They instead gave of their increase in tithes, offerings, and alms to the fellowship of believers. In turn, the believers used the tithe for spreading the Gospel. The offerings were used for the general and administrative support of the church, and alms were used to care for the poor, widows, orphans, and needy.
Kelly: Nothing but lies. Where is your so-called “historical evidence” for “New Testament times”? According to Acts 15 and Acts 21:20-21, the Hebrew Christians in Judea never stopped being “zealous of the law.” The earliest church fathers rejected tithing as purely Jewish and of the Law.
Crown: Malachi 3:10 is the first place that really directs the tithe: “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house.”
Kelly: Wrong. Read Nehemiah 10:37-38. The ordinary people were “directed” to bring their tithes to the Levitical cities scattered throughout the land where the Levites, priests, their wives, and their younger children needed tithes for food. Bringing the WHOLE tithe to the Jerusalem temple storehouse is illogical when Levites or priests were hungry far away.
Crown: In order to bring our tithes into the storehouse, it is necessary to determine what, exactly, the storehouse is. In the Old Testament, the storehouse was a physical place where the Jews would deliver their offerings of grain and animals.
Kelly: Compare First Kings 6:6 with Nehemiah 13:5. The “storehouse” of Malachi was actually two combined rooms equaling 10 ft. by 20 ft. That size could not possibly hold all the tithes of the land.
Crown: Tithing and today's church: Ideally, the church should serve as the storehouse in God's economy today.
Kelly: Wrong for several reasons. First, the “church” is never called a “storehouse”; it is an assembly of believers and is never a building. Second, there were no legal church buildings until after AD 300 when Christianity became legal.
Crown: Then people's tithes would simply be given to the church.
Kelly: In the Old Covenant those who received tithes in exchange for an inheritance were not allowed to own or inherit land. Yet modern gospel workers receive the “tithe” and also own and inherit property. The Old Covenant priesthood and its tithes were “annulled, abolished” in Hebrews 7:18 (compare 7:5 and 7:12). Today all believers are priests who do not tithe to themselves.
Crown: When we obey Him and pay our tithes to the church, God holds the leaders of the church responsible for the distribution of the tithes (see Nehemiah 12:44-45, 13:5, 13).
Kelly: Now you are twisting Nehemiah’s context to make its Levites and priests equivalent to Gospel workers. Again, since HOLY biblical tithes were always only FOOD from inside God’s HOLY land, it is logical to conclude that nobody tithes today. Not even Jesus, Peter, or Paul qualified as tithe payers.
Crown: In today's American society the Levites and priests (Numbers 18:24-26; 28-29) are equivalent to pastors and other church staff, evangelists, and missionaries.
Kelly: Lie. Lie. Lie. No texts. Modern gospel workers are more like O.T. prophets who were not among the Levites and priests.
Crown: The feeding of Hebrew widows and orphans (Deuteronomy 14:28-29) would be equivalent to widows and orphans being served in a local church. The Gentile poor (Deuteronomy 14:28-29) would be equivalent to the unsaved people in the community where the church is located.
Kelly: There are solid post-Calvary Holy Spirit inspired New Testament verses for this, especially in Second Corinthians 8 and 9.
Crown: However, in truth, the vast majority of local churches do not minister fully in all the areas of ministry that exemplified the Old Testament storehouse.
Kelly: Gentiles and Christians never were under the Old Covenant law. And gospel workers own and inherit property contrary to the tithing laws.
Crown: This ministry does not see the tithe as a “law” but, rather, as an indicator of obedience to God's laws.
Kelly: What are your biblical grounds for saying this?
Crown: The principle of tithing is just that—a principle and not a law—
Kelly: This sounds like an admission that tithing cannot be biblically supported. In reality it is a perversion. “Eternal moral principles” reflect the character of God and are written in nature, the heart, and conscience of every person (Rom 2:14-16). “Giving” is an eternal moral principle because all know to give. On the other hand, “tithing” is not written in the hearts of all men.
Crown: … and God is looking for the right attitude in a person's giving.
Kelly: The Holy Spirit has taught the church much better giving principles: freewill, generous, sacrificial, hilarious, joyful, not by commandment, and motivated by love for God and love for lost souls.
Crown: If there were not a willingness to give back to the Lord a portion of what He has entrusted unto us, then giving tithes upon tithes would not make a difference.
Kelly: You are drawing a conclusion based upon your false definition of biblical tithing.
Crown: So, since the tithe's purpose is to be a testimony of God's ownership, each believer should give bountifully and cheerfully.
Kelly: Your circle of error is completed by going back to the same error you began with. HOLY biblical tithes were always only FOOD from inside God’s HOLY and which He had miraculously increased. Over 1000 years after God defined tithes through Moses in Leviticus 27:30-34, tithes were still only food in Malachi 3:10. And 400 years after that tithes were still only food as described by Jesus himself in Matthew 23:23.
Crown: “Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). The word translated “grudgingly” is the Greek word lupe. It means sorrow, grief, or annoyance. The word translated “cheerful” is the Greek word hilaros. It means joyful, happy, and exuberant. Therefore, according to the Word of God, believers are not to give with an attitude of provocation or annoyance or feel obligated to give, as if they have no other choice. Rather, believers should give because they choose to give and because they are happy to give and should feel that giving to the Lord is the highest of privileges.
Kelly: Most tithe-teachers say that this is not describing tithing at all; it is describing freewill offerings which are in addition to mandatory tithing. Therefore, by using this argument you are disagreeing with most tithe-teachers.
Crown: The church of today is the whole brotherhood of believers, not just the individual church on the street corner. When God speaks of His church, it is again the corporate body of Christ. When a believer gives to the church, it is to every part of the body, not just the denominational portions or a physical facility.
Kelly: The church today is under the New Covenant which began at Calvary. The church today never has been under the Old Covenant and its 600 plus mandated commands. It takes both poor hermeneutics and a poor understanding of the Law to teach tithing and defend it.
Crown: Therefore, to the extent that a church would lack in a specific area of ministry, a portion of the tithe could be given to an individual, a parachurch organization, or a missionary organization if they are “filling the gap.”
Kelly: Wow! You are telling Christians who are disappointed with the local church “storehouse” that it is permissible to give their tithe to you! It is fine to teach the whole gospel from the New Covenant --- except stewardship. That is hypocrisy. And that is the kind of mixing grace and law which Paul called “accursed” in Galatians 1:8-9 and “bewitched” in Galatians 3:1.
Crown: In essence, the ministries that serve in God's name, whether the local church or outside of the local church, who are fulfilling the standards set forth in God's Word and whose motives are compatible with those standards, should be recipients of a believer's giving.
Kelly: Tithing is not one of those standards. It never was a beginning minimum “standard” except for food-producers who lived inside Israel. You have no precedent.
Crown: The ministry does not feel that the matter of giving should be an obstacle to anyone. Furthermore, we have never suggested that believers should redirect their tithes from their local churches completely.
Crown: (1) Since the tithe is recognition of a believer's obedience and submission to God and (2) is given in thanksgiving for His faithfulness in providing, there should not be any (3) legalism involved in how the (4) money is directed.
Kelly: The first and second statements have no Bible validity and are lies. The third is not true because tithing was at the very heart of the law to support its Old Covenant Levites and priests. The fourth statement is not true because tithes were never money. Although money was very common even in Genesis and was required in the worship ritual as vows and fines, money was never included in any biblical definition of HOLY tithes as accepted by Malachi or Jesus.
Crown: Therefore, if believers feel the need, and God's direction, to help others outside of their local churches and they have no other funds than the tithe, it would be hard to say that they are disobeying God's Word if they give outside of their local churches.
Kelly: YOU are disobeying God’s Word by adding a purely legal concept to grace. Even under the law, one could not be blessed for tithing if one broke any other part of the law. God did not bless dishonest “tithe payers” under the law.
Crown: Remember that God is concerned more with the attitude in giving than the actual gift or designation of it.
Kelly: I challenge anybody in your organization or any other organization or church to enter an extended open dialog with me on the subject of tithing. If you really believe and are convicted that you are correct, you should jump to this offer.
Russell Earl Kelly, PHD
April 8, 2012